World Bird Photo Contest 2nd Prize Winner: “Surfacing” by Mike Murray…
The Bird Blurb:
The blurry bird of interest in this photograph is the Great Northern Loon (Gavia immer) or the Common Loon as it is called in North America.
This species, like all divers, is a specialist fish-eater, catching its prey underwater, diving as deep as 200 feet (60m). Freshwater diets consist of pike, perch, sunfish, trout, and bass; salt-water diets consist of rock fish, flounder, sea trout, and herring.
The North American name “loon” is a reference to the bird’s clumsiness on land, and is derived from Scandinavian words for lame, such as Icelandic “lúinn” and Swedish “lam”. The bird needs a long distance to gain momentum for take-off, and is ungainly on landing. Its clumsiness on land is due to the legs being positioned at the rear of the body: this is ideal for diving but not well-suited for walking. When the birds land on water, they skim along on their bellies to slow down, rather than on their feet, as these are set too far back. The loon swims gracefully on the surface, dives as well as any flying bird, and flies competently for hundreds of kilometers in migration. It flies with its neck outstretched, usually calling a particular tremolo that can be used to identify a flying loon. Its call has been alternately called “haunting,” “beautiful,” “thrilling,” “mystical” and “enchanting.”